Super Bowl 50 is upon us in the Bay Area, and one of the teams is staying at a hotel just down the street from the Works/San José gallery. I created this piece for their upcoming show titled SUPER Hunger Anti-Valentine BOWL Games Part 50. The call for entries encouraged “commenting on sport and the season” so I took more of an editorial approach to this one.
I like to watch football with friends, especially when they’re involved in fantasy football due to the constant shifting of allegiances and opinions about particular games. While there’s plenty to criticize about the sport, the topic I kept coming back to is the recently updated bag regulations for NFL stadium events. It bothers me because it uses an inconsistently-applied logic about security, and in a spot of doublespeak, promotes its awkward guidelines as a “convenience”.
Public events typically have guidelines about what can and cannot be brought in from the outside. In 2013 the NFL released an updated set of guidelines about how items can be brought in. These guidelines are a puzzling mix of size, visibility, and brand restrictions. A bag must be transparent unless it’s as small as one’s hand…and a transparent bag cannot show any logo expect club and NFL official logos.
These restrictions limit bags only. They do not limit carrying items in jackets, cargo shorts, or other pockets. Most people do not wear pocket-laden clothing in daily wear, and the trend in women’s clothing is to have shallow pockets (2-3” deep) or no pockets at all. In practice, these guidelines primarily impact women (purses) and parents (diaper bags).
It’s disheartening that female fans are singled out to change their behavior and appearance for the sake of seeing a live football game. It is insulting to imply that this is safer or more convenient for anyone. The only convenience here is the convenient side effect of selling more NFL-approved merchandise.
Is your bag (or wallet? or phone?) smaller than your hand? If not, would be comfortable carrying your possessions in a clear plastic bag for everyone to see? Before attending a live football game you now should read up on how to stay safe on gameday given the new guidelines. Or these amusing ways to beat the bag ban. Funny how none of this is an issue for hockey, or soccer, or other organized sports.
The middle area shows the smaller-than-your-hand bag criteria in real size. There is a mirror inset here to reflect on how purses are a part of one’s identity. This size is far smaller than a standard purse – so to belong, you must conform to the right size.
The large dotted area is the 12″x12″ transparent bag maximum. Since anything you’ve got in there is free to be seen, I covered the area in eyes. There are 32 eyes, to be precise: a woman’s eye to represent each of the 32 NFL teams. They are (roughly) laid out in the cardinal directions to reflect the AFC/NFC team divisions, and each one reflects each team’s colors.
Purses are normal. These foolish guidelines treat them as uniquely threatening, and they reflect poorly on the NFL’s attitude towards its own fans.